Knowledge of quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping in polyploids is almost void, albeit many exquisite strategies of QTL mapping have been proposed and extensive investigations have been carried out in diploid animals and plants. In this paper we develop a simple algorithm which uses an iteratively reweighted least square method to map QTLs in tetraploid populations. The method uses information from all markers in a linkage group to infer the probability distribution of QTL genotype under the assumption of random chromosome segregation. Unlike QTL mapping in diploid species, here we estimate and test the compound 'gametic effect', which consists of the composite 'genic effect' of alleles and higher-order gene interactions. The validity and efficiency of the proposed method are investigated through simulation studies. Results show that the method can successfully locate QTLs and separates different sources (e.g. additive and dominance) of variance components contributed by the QTLs.